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Speed Racer October 1, 2008

Posted by Sai in English, Movies, Reviews.
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The Wachowski Brothers’ follow-up to the Matrix trilogy was possibly the biggest bomb of the summer. It cost $120 million to make and recouped only 75% of that amount worldwide. Though the visuals impressed everyone, the film didn’t win favor with most reviewers. The only reason I wanted to watch this was the visuals. I had seen the trailer and it was hard for me to not want to watch it. So I did (on the big screen where this film’s impact is the most).

The film is based on an animated television series of the same name that I had never known. So my take on the film does not come with the excess baggage of either love or hatred for that series.

The film is the story of Speed Racer (Emile Hirsch) who, as the name suggests, is a race car driver. His dad (John Goodman) builds race cars while his mom (Susan Sarandon) and girlfriend (Christina Ricci) cheer him on as he does them proud winning race after race. His success brings an offer from a rich industrialist, Mr Royalton (Roger Allam), which Speed chooses to reject. Royalton threatens to destroy Speed’s career but Speed and his friends have other plans.

This is a film aimed at children with a simple good finally wins over evil plot. The fact that this is a children’s film becomes very clear a few minutes into the film (and that helped me prepare for it). For those who don’t catch it early on, the film also features a young kid and his pet monkey. However, this isn’t apparent from the trailers or the promotional material. I believe this is probably one of the major reasons for its disappointing performance.

The Wachowskis writing and directing a kiddie flick. Who would have thought? But even more surprising is the fact that a studio was willing to back the project at such high costs.

It does have other flaws too but the one thing that really won me over in this film is the seamless integration of live action and CGI. There is so much crazy car action happening in this film but for most part it didn’t strike me as abnormal for the real world. In my mind, I was watching a cartoon that looked like it was from the real world.

Overall, it wasn’t a memorable film but worth sitting through. If you are a kid, you’ll probably enjoy this. If you are not, prepare to watch a children’s film and you can at least be wowed by the superlative visuals.